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Women prepare to fight mega-yacht decision

Pamela Whitesides and neighbor Judy Cole join forces in pushing for an appeal of temporary mooring.

August 23, 2013|By Emily Foxhall
  • Paddle boarders cruise by a location where two yachts, one more than 100 feet long and the other more than 200 feet long, are to be anchored near west end of Lido Island in Newport Harbor.
Paddle boarders cruise by a location where two yachts,… (Don Leach / Daily…)

Two Newport Beach residents hope to stop the arrival of two large yachts slated to moor temporarily in the open harbor area in front of their homes next month.

When the boat owners independently asked to anchor in the newly dredged waterfront, Newport Beach Harbor Commission members approved their requests as a welcome opportunity to try out a different use for the area on the west end of Lido Island.

But residents fear this may be a first step toward the harbor changing for the worse.

"This is just a trial, they keep assuring us of that," said Pamela Whitesides, who has lived in a waterfront building for about 20 years. "But it's a trial to make it permanent."

She and neighbor Judy Cole intend to work hard on getting the decision rescinded.

Looking out her floor-to-ceiling glass windows onto the calm blue water, Whitesides explained that the decision affects more than just the view from her living room in a condominium complex on the Balboa Peninsula adjacent to Lido Village. Many people use the harbor to kayak, paddleboard, sail and swim.

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If the yachts arrive, she said, continued recreational use would become difficult and dangerous.

The owner of one boat, the nearly 130-foot Marama, wishes to anchor for a period of five days to host a small, private wedding, said Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery, who declined to identify the boat's owner.

The second yacht owner, billionaire developer and potential Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, plans to spend 16 days anchored over a two-month period, Avery said. Caruso plans to host a christening party for his new 216-foot vessel, the Invictus, during that time. A representative for Caruso, who developed The Grove shopping center in L.A., declined to comment.

The two boats will not be allowed to moor at the same time.

Residents have until Aug. 28 to lobby council members for an appeal of the commission's approval, which would be heard during the Sept. 10 meeting, said the city's harbor resources manager, Chris Miller.

So far, Whitesides has emailed the council member who represents her district, Michael Henn, and plans to meet with Mayor Keith Curry on Monday, she said.

Whitesides and Cole share concerns that the private yachts will be bright and noisy and emit generator fumes. They worry that the commission's swift decision comes without proper review or input from residents.

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